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Aligned to elementary social studies learning standards, Really BIG Money teaches children about world cultures and supports the development of financial literacy.

 

Rai stone ring, island of Yap (Micronesia), 1900s

Gift of Colonel William C. Moore

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How big is this money?

This stone ring called a rai (ray) weighs 112 pounds. It’s from the island of Yap in the Pacific Ocean. Rai ranged in size from a couple inches to the size of a large car. This stone broke when it was moved from one location to another, before the Smithsonian received it.

How does this stone ring work?

This stone rai is from an island in the Pacific ocean called Yap. Rai don’t work like the money in your pocket does. Rai were only used for special kinds of payments, such as wedding gifts. Very heavy rai did not move around the island even after they changed owners.

Rai are made of a stone found on the island of Palau, 280 miles away from Yap. For hundreds of years, people on the island of Yap have displayed the stone rai at their homes. They show a family’s importance in the island community.

Courtesy of Alamy